Sky Blue FC (0-13-3, 3 points) returned to National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) action on Saturday, narrowly falling to Portland Thorns FC (8-5-5, 29 points) at Yurcak Field, 2-1. The shots were fast and furious in the second half for Sky Blue FC as it sought after an equalizer, but the hosts unfortunately saw those attempts hit everything but the back of the net.
“Honestly, this was not even a one-point performance for me. I felt we played well enough to earn three points,” said Denise Reddy, Sky Blue FC head coach. “We created some of our best chances of the year tonight, especially in the second half. Collectively, our players did exactly what we asked them to do. Even when we were down two-nil, nobody hung their heads, and we got ourselves back into the game. Everyone was playing with a great amount of energy, and I am very proud of the performance that our team put forth.”
Portland opened the scoring in the 4th minute of play tonight, as Christine Sinclair split a pair of defenders with a ball that found Hayley Raso speeding down the left flank. Raso then carried into the penalty area before stepping around a defender and placing a ball in the right upper 90 to make it 1-0 in favor of the visitors.
In the 7th minute, the Thorns extended their lead to a pair of goals when Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic picked off a clearance attempt just outside the 18. After quickly settling, Crnogorcevic tucked a ball inside the far post that gave her team a 2-0 advantage.
Sky Blue FC was able to pull one back in the 27th minute on a great connection through the center of the park. After acquiring possession in the midfield, Thaisa volleyed a ball for Shea Groom, who then headed it to the feet of Savannah McCaskill. With Imani Dorsey making a run into the box, McCaskill split a couple of defenders to find enough space for Dorsey to strike a ball past Britt Eckerstrom. That same 2-1 score would remain when the two sides broke for intermission.
Throughout the second half, Sky Blue FC was firing shots from all angles but saw those attempts hit the post, crossbar and fall victim to saves.
In the 61st minute, McCaskill made a hustle play to snipe a loose ball in her final third. After a quick touch, she fed an overlapping Groom into the penalty area. Groom sped onto the delivery before hammering a hard shot that rattled off the near post. Collecting the rebound was Dorsey, but her follow-up was off the mark.
Sky Blue FC later earned a free kick opportunity in the 81st minute from about 25 yards out. After Groom touched the ball into play, Raquel Rodriguez rocketed a shot that struck the crossbar and was just inches from equalizing.
The final minutes of this match-up saw Sky Blue FC continue to create chances. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, McCaskill played Dorsey into the center of the box, where she saw a well-struck ball kick-saved by Eckerstrom. Janine Beckie then put the rebound on frame, but her shot was somehow knocked away by Ellie Carpenter.
Despite the tremendous effort by Sky Blue FC to find a second half equalizer, the final outcome of this pairing was a 2-1 result in favor of the Thorns. With the loss, Sky Blue FC was officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Next up for Sky Blue FC is a road fixture next Saturday night against the Chicago Red Stars. The team will return home to Yurcak Field on Saturday, August 11, hosting the Houston Dash for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Tickets for that game are available now online or by calling 888-SBFC-TIX (888-723-2849).
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